My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Marathon #10: Des Moines

Saturday, October 19, 2013 (Pre-Race)
We headed out to Des Moines, IA on Saturday around 1pm.  Des Moines was to be Eric's very first marathon and for me it had multiple purposes 1) it was my 8th "state" 2) it would qualify me for "Marathon Maniac" status and 3) I needed to finish my 2013 race season with a race that was just for me.  Eric and I discussed that I wouldn't run with him.  It is very hard to run someone else's race.  I was too injured to run at his pace and also he wanted to do it all himself!  We brought one of my client's (Jackie) and her husband (Matt) with us for this race.  Jackie was pulled out of the Twin Cities Marathon by EMTs 2 weeks before and she wanted redemption, so she joined us for her second attempt at a Fall marathon.

Jackie and Matt showed up at our house and we headed out in the Nissan.  Two minutes into the trip, I realized I didn't have my Garmin and we had to head back!  It was a very long drive out of Minnesota with all of the construction and single lane traffic.  It took us close to 4.5 hours to get to Des Moines.  My initial thoughts of the city (which I had never been to before) were that it was kind small and didn't have much to it.  I couldn't believe that it was the capital of the state!  I would later find out that it is a very beautiful city on foot!  The expo was held at Hy-Vee Hall which was some kind of civic center type building.  We headed in to pickup our race packets and walk around the expo.  It was a medium sized expo with some interesting things to look at.  As we wondered through, we saw a booth where Terry Hitchcock was at.  Terry ran 75 marathons in 75 days.  He ran from St. Paul to Atlanta and got there in time for the 1996 Summer Olympics.  He ran for a purpose - to raise money for single parent families.  There is a documentary on his famous run called "My Run" that I had watched just prior to the Women Rock Half Marathon on 8/31/13.  It was a little depressing to watch as he didn't receive much support during his run.  I told him that I'd be interested in connecting with him once I opened my gym.  He lives just a city away from me :)

Me and Terry Hitchcock

We headed over to pickup our packets and I took some pictures of Eric getting his very first marathon packet!

Eric getting his race packet!

We finished wandering around the expo with Jackie and Matt and stumbled upon the course map.  Of course I needed to get my traditional picture with the map!  After that, we headed over to the hotel to check in and find a good place to carbo load!

Jackie, Me, and Eric with the course map
One of many pieces of "interesting art" around the city

We spotted a great place to eat on our way to the hotel - Mezzodi's.  We pulled in there around 7:30pm.  Eric's cousin, David, happens to live in Des Moines, so we called him up and he joined us for dinner.  The five of us had a great meal and some great conversation!  Once we finished our meal, we headed back to the hotel and hung out in our rooms until 10pm!  Then it was time for sleep :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013 - Race Day
We woke up Sunday around 5:30 am and began the process of getting ready for the big day ahead of us.  We met Jackie and Matt in the lobby around 7:00 am and drove over to the start area.  We got over there fairly early and decided to sit in the warm car for a few extra minutes.  Once it was closer to 7:15 am, we left Matt with the car and headed for the Gear Check on foot!  It was a couple blocks away and it was very chilly - somewhere around 40 degrees!  It was supposed to warm up to 55 by the end of the race.  It turned out to be perfect running weather!

As we approached the start line, there were several signs that read "Athletes Only".  I've never seen that sign at a marathon before.  It was pretty cool to see.  Sometimes I don't think runners consider themselves as "athletes".  Most of them just think of themselves as "runners".  But marathoners are the truest of athletes.  A marathoner is someone that will always have my respect.  No matter who they are.  Because at some point during the 26.2, a marathoner will be humbled and humbled in a way that no one other than a marathoner understands.  They might be humbled by injury or fatigue or by the spirit of other marathoner (i.e. watching an 85 year old run in front of them, seeing a runner with a prosthetic leg, witnessing a runner limping across the finish line soaked with tears of determination).  Every marathoner, no matter how elite or non-elite they are, reaches that point in the race when they want to give up and quit.  But they don't.  They keep running. They keep running because everyone else around them keeps running.  Everyone is in it together.  They all share the same pain and fatigue.  And then, when they see that finish line, they all feel the same incredible pride of their accomplishment.  Crossing the finish line in a marathon is not about the victory.  It is about not giving up when you want to most.  It is about finishing what you started.  Marathoners are the greatest of athletes in my book! 

Eric entering the start area

Backing up a minute...just before we got to the start area, we ducked into the YMCA to use the restrooms.  We ended up in the longest line EVER and did not get out of the line until 7:50ish.  We ran like mad people to the gear check when we heard over the loud speaker "2 minutes to start"!  We then ran like mad people back to the start line.  We quick took a couple pics and then dispursed into the crowd of runners.  I had told Eric and Jackie that I wanted to run my own race and would not be starting with either of them.

Me & Jackie
Eric in the corral!

I started working my way to the 8:30 pace sign.  I wanted to be in front of many of the half marathoners that might cause some congestion in the first few miles.  Experience teaches a runner many things and learning where to line up is a big lesson I have learned!  Immediately after reaching my destination, the national anthem began.  A few seconds later, I heard the "Ready, Go!" command.  It was the perfect start.  In the first half mile, I made the decision to not look at my Garmin for the entire race.  I looked at it only a couple times to see what mile I was at, but other than that I never knew my pace.  I decided to run by feel and listen to my body :)  My injured body that was running its 3rd marathon in 37 days!

At mile 3, the course split.  The half marathoners turned left onto a flat street.  The full marathoners went straight for the first of many mile long uphill climbs.  The elevation chart showed me a steady climb from miles 3 to 8.  And it held true.  It was hard work, but with beautiful scenery.  The course was lined with beautiful homes in mature neighborhoods.  It was awesome to run through.  There were local musicians spread throughout the course.  It was nice to run without headphones and be able to listen to all that was going on!  I saw a group of 5 people cheering and each holding a letter that spelled out L - A - U - R - A.  They cheered for me as I ran by!  It was cool!

I made my way closer to mile 8 and saw the elites run past in the return direction of the course.  Shortly after, I saw Jackie run past about 10 minutes behind me.  She looked great!  She had stayed back in the crowd and didn't work her way to the front, so I will be coaching that point for her next race :)  I proceeded forward as we ran onto the campus of Drake University.  It was a really cool campus.  I had heard many times about the Drake Relays that are run on the track there.  Even my client Jackie had run the Drake Relays.  I was excited to see that we were running out onto the track to run the entire loop.  We also were up on the jumbo tron as we ran past!  I stopped to take a picture of it!

Drake University Stadium

Of course I had to let the guy in orange (in the pic) pass me so I could take a picture.  I'm sure I passed him back though!  LOL!  As I ran out of the stadium, I went back up a hill and onto the road that I came in on.  It was two-way running traffic again.  I looked for Jackie, but realized she must have been on the track not too far behind me, so I started to look for Eric.  I figured he would not be far behind the 4:30 pacer, so I started to look for that sign.  I passed it shortly before the half marathon chip mat and less than 30 seconds after I crossed the mat, I saw Eric coming down the road on the other side.  So, I cut across the median and planted a kiss on the man!  Then I set out in search for a porta potty.  I made myself wait until after the half split, but I couldn't wait any more!  It took another mile, but I finally found one and as usual, my hands were too numb to function properly and I wasted a couple minutes in there. 

Once I was on my way again, the length of the race started to present signs of fatigue.  So far, I had only dealt with hamstring tightness on all the hills.  But now I was in my energizer bunny mode and things just started to feel a little sore from being on my feet for two hours.  It always amazes me that my half marathon split is just as fast as my half marathon times when I run them independent of a marathon...must be in my head!  I saw the L-A-U-R-A fans and as they cheered for me, I told them I was changing my name to Laura.  I saw them again shortly after that in which they told me I was winning that baby!  I ran to a part of the course that entered into a regional park.  We ran along a beautiful path, but it was just runners in there and we were running single file as runners started to spread out a bit.  I hate that.  It makes me feel like I'm alone in the race and not in a group of people!  As I approached mile 18, we headed out of this portion of the park, but into an area that was incredibly boring.  It was a huge open field and we ran a circle around it.  It was about two miles along the perimeter of the field.  I wanted to cry.  I was hurting and it was terribly boring - a bad combination!  This is the part of the race I always want to throw in the towel.  I ran by the mile 19 marker and there was a Red Bull setup there.  They were actually giving out Red Bull to the runners.  I can only imagine how crappy the people that drank it must have felt.  Nothing like putting a person in a state of absolute depletion and then jacking them up on that crap.  I saw a lot of empties...sad.

As I rounded the field and exited the other side, I saw Jackie again!  It is good to see a familiar face during a marathon!  It always makes you not feel alone.  She was looking a little defeated, but that will happen at that point of the race!  I continued on and entered into the final 10k of the race.  This is where it gets more fun.  It's kind of like that point in time during childbirth, when the contractions stop and therefore the pain stops and you get ready to bear down and push.  Different situation, but the same feelings of pain!  The agony of enduring the race ends, but the fatigue sets in - especially in the legs.  However, you can now taste the finish line and you know you will make it, so you just run or walk or run/walk to the end.  I was feeling good and just kept running.  I took a few short 30 second walking breaks about every mile, but mostly I just wanted to finish.  I ran by a guy with a Marathon Maniac shirt on.  I told him that I was earning Marathon Maniac status that day.  He gave me a high five and said congrats!  He looked pretty rough though, so I ran on.  I ran around Gray Lake and decided that running around lakes in a marathon sucks.  It sucks to see the other side of something and how far you still have to run to get there!  As I exited the other side of the lake, I ran onto the final stretch of downtown.

As I approached an intersection, I was stopped by a police officer.  This was unusual during a marathon.  I was the only one around and waited to see what was happening.  Within the next few seconds a police car and an ambulance drove through the intersection.  When they passed, I was able to cross the road and onto the final mile.  I was pretty tired and everything hurt, but I was so excited to hit the final stretch!  It is the part of the race where there is a huge crowd cheering and it's very exciting and emotional.  As I rounded the corner towards the bridge that the finish line was on, I saw my L-A-U-R-A fans!  They saw me and cheered loudly.  I threw my fists up in the air and yelled "LAURA!"  It was hilarious.  Together, the Laura fans and I bonded for this race.  We had no idea who each other was, but we endured something together, got to know each other, and had fun.  ONLY during a marathon does this happen :)

I made the final turn and saw the finish line about a quarter mile away.  As I approached the bridge, a hand swung out to high five me.  It was Matt!  He cheered as I was the first of our group to cross the finish line!  I started to get teary eyed as I looked at the clock.  I had just ran my second fastest marathon.  I was seriously injured, stopped several times during the race, and didn't look at the clock the whole race.  I just enjoyed it and still ran fast.  Although, I have to admit that I was still 9 mins slower than my PR.  But I know that my natural and untrained race pace can still be fast and that made me smile.  Even though it is "Year of the Turtle", I still got it!  It was a nice race to end my 2013 race season with!

I approached a race volunteer to take my picture after I received my medal!  Then I walked over to a PT tent to get my foot looked at.  During the 20s, I started to feel sharp pains in the top of my right foot and I was a little concerned considering my history of injuries with that foot.  Of course the doctor explained to me that she was sure that I had tendinitis because of my minimalist footwear.  What an idiot.  I took a bag of ice and walked out.  The pain was gone within an hour and I never had it again.  Never had it before either.  And stability shoes...NOT in my future...stupid.  I wandered over to the food tables and CHOWED.  They had everything - pizza, BBQ, sandwiches, cookies, etc.  It was AWESOME!

Love this sign!
Number 10 complete!

Once I finished eating, I headed back to the final mile.  I had received a text alert that Eric would finish around 1pm and I knew Jackie wasn't in yet since Matt hadn't seen her come through.  I waited a couple blocks before the finish and started watching for Jackie.  Within 5 minutes, I saw her come through limping.  She had pulled her hamstring :(  She had a rough Fall race season, but she got her completion.  And it was still a good time!  I sat down in the middle of the intersection (since it was closed for the race) and waited for Eric.  I couldn't stand anymore and was carrying all my gear, so I just sat there.  It was another 20 minutes before Eric came through.  He looked good!  He was tired, but not hurt.  I had been worried about his tight IT Band the past few weeks, but it held out!  I was very proud of his accomplishment and was excited for him to join the ranks of marathoners!  I met him at the food tables (and had more food :) and took some pics! 

Final stretch!
Selfie of our medals!

We headed over to get our free beer at the beer tent and realized that our IDs were back at our hotel.  We thought we'd try anyway to get a beer.  The lady asked me my age and looked at me like I was lying.  Then she made me tell her my bday without hesitating.  I then told her I was turning 40 in May.  She congratulated me and handed me a beer!  I thought that was a good response to be congratulated about turning 40.  As if I "survived".  Haha!  It was awesome.  I am actually excited to turn 40.  I earned it :)  I did survive and I plan to be FREAKING AWESOME in my 40s.

We drove home from Iowa and hit crappy construction traffic and of course that was lovely on a Sunday night...whatever.  We went to get the kids from my parents and then we went home and I registered for the MedCity Marathon in Rochester, MN on May 25th.  It will be my next race.  I will be 40 and my BQ qualifying time will need to be sub 3:45.  My PR is 3:45:19.  So, that will be the one.  It is flat and near home.  I also emailed my races and times to the Marathon Maniac guys to get approval into the club.  I am excited and will now take 5 weeks off from running to heal :)

Event: IMT Des Moines Marathon
Place: Des Moines, IA
Theme Song:  N/A
Date: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Time: 8:00am
Overall Place:  543 of 1750
Gender Place:  139 of 754
Division Place (F3539):  21 of 147
10K Split:  52:26
Half Split:  1:51:51
20 Mile Split:  2:53:17
Final Time:  3:54:26 (8:57 avg. pace)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Marathon #9: TCM Again

Sunday, October 6th: Race Day
This is my second time running the Twin Cities Marathon.  It is a very beautiful course - and that is important when you are staring at the scenery for 26.2 miles or in this case, just under 6 hours!  The only reason I signed up for this race was to run it with a wonderful client and very good friend of mine, Sonya Rippe (aka "Junior").  I was really looking forward to this day and was especially excited for Sonya.  I was thrilled to be on this journey with her from start to finish.  She first approached me almost a year and a half ago with her aspirations.  I had no doubt in my mind that she would succeed with completing the 2013 TC Marathon.  It took some very creative training, but it all executed wonderfully and the final strides to the capital were inspirational.  When I was at the expo to pick up my packet the night before, I bought Sonya a car magnet with "26.2" on it and I was very excited to see her put it on her car!

Sonya was fundraising for the MS Society for this event and therefore we stopped into the Minnepolis MS office for her to take a team photo with her fellow fundraisers!  A mutual friend of ours, Erin Colosimo, joined us for the ride to the start and for the first half of the race.  We were very lucky that we got to use the warm and clean restrooms at the MS office prior to the race! 

Me, Sonya, and Erin C. at the MS office

We headed over to the Metrodome (aka Mall of America Field - I just can't seem to want to call it such a ridiculous name) and found the start corrals.  I was assigned to corral 2 and Sonya and Erin were assigned to corral 3, but it didn't really seem to matter since no one was checking the bibs anyways!  We dropped our gear at the bag check areas and headed one more time to the restrooms.  By this time, we met up with another client of mine and first timer marathoner Debra Malmgren.  Debra had been training with me for the entire event as well.  Debra emailed me her "resignation" from marathon training a month before.  I told her to pull herself together and get back to training.  Luckily she listened to me and got back to training.  She finished her first marathon at TCM with a time of 5:27!

Erin C., Me, Sonya, and Debra in the start corral!
Fully loaded corral!  Waiting for the anthem!

I discussed Sonya's race strategy with her before the gun went off.  The plan was to run steady through the first 20 minutes and then start in with 8 mins run and 2 mins walk intervals.  We waited for our corral to move up to the starting line.  It took about ten minutes after the wheeler start.  Our corral started to move up and we waited excitedly for the "Ready, Go!" command!  It was a matter of seconds and we were on our way!  There is no sound more awesome than the beeps of the garmins as the marathoners cross the chip mat at the start :)  I love that sound!

We proceeded down Hennipen Avenue and tradition held as the marathoners all cheered under the buildings and bridges that we ran under for the first mile!  It didn't take long to get to the 20 minute mark and we began our first walk interval as we entered the neighborhoods on our way to Lake of the Isles.  It was a flawless system of me timing our intervals, until I got distracted by a few "That what she said" signs!  It cracked me up because it made me think of my client Jill who is ALWAYS saying that in group sessions!  There were also multiple signs that read "Go Erin" along the way as well!  I took a few moments to take some pictures and text them to Jill during our walk intervals!

And finally, the best sign EVER:

As we circled Lake Calhoun, we ran up to our friend Maria.  She was the first person assigned to support Sonya!  I dumped my long sleeve shirt, arm sleeves, and gloves with her.  It was starting to warm up pretty nicely.  We started with beautiful sun, but chilly temps in the 50s.  We could see some heavy gray clouds off to the west and I was wondering if rain was in the plan for today!  We headed over to Lake Harriet and met up with Sonya's sister and her family.  They gave us our first helping of Nilla Wafers and oranges!  Nilla Wafers never tasted so good.  Man, did they taste good :)  I made the call to skip the gels and run solely on Nilla Wafers and oranges that day.  It was a good call and certainly not one I could repeat at race pace for myself.  So the opportunity to enjoy eating while running a marathon was present and I took it!

After the lakes, we started the long haul down Minnehaha Pkwy en route to Lake Nokomis.  This is still a pretty part of the course and is populated with plenty of fans.  We kept tackling the miles one at a time until we finally made it over to Nokomis!  Just before the half marathon split, Erin C. decided to take off and finish her race on her own.  I was secretly excited for Sonya to have her own race at this point.  As a coach, I just wanted to see her be able to not stress about people around her and just let her run her own race.  I just wanted to be there in the shadows of her big day, gently nudging her along and encouraging her through her pain and fatigue (which we both were feeling :)!

After Nokomis, we started what I like to call the "guts" of the marathon.  It is usually the most unpopulated part of the race and is generally slow, boring, and just plain hard to push yourself through.  I was happy to be there for the nudging during that portion!  We kept seeing Sonya's support people all along the way!  We continued to feed on Nilla Wafers and oranges!

Mile 16 - Coming up to our personal pit stop!

Along the way, I was waiting for text alerts to come in from the Athlete Tracker system for my girls Debra and Jackie.  Debra has been dealing with some incredible tightness in her entire body that we had been working on for months with the help of a PT and his strain-counter strain technique.  Jackie was my only runner going for a performance goal of sub-4 hours that day.  Jackie was precisely at her peak performance, strong, and absolutely ready to kill this race.  I was pretty dang excited to see what she could pull off for a PR.  I had a gut feeling it would be way under 4 hours :)  I waited for the texts to come in, but they were very slow and behind.  After the half split, I never received another text for Jackie and I started to stress about her race.  Her half split was a little slower than I wanted to see and I assumed something was wrong.  Then by the end of the race, I knew she never finished.  I came to learn later that evening that she had over caffinated herself that morning and violently vomited after her second gel (caffinated as well).  She got so dehydrated from the vomiting that she started getting delirious on the course and was pulled by an EMT and then her bib was confiscated.  This was a pretty big upset.  I called her later that afternoon when I got home and we talked about her joining me down at Des Moines.  We can't waste the masterpiece that we created!  She is stepping back two weeks on her plan and I'm adding some strength work as well.

Debra texted me around mile 18.  We thought we were coming up on the bridge to cross over into St. Paul, but we were actually 1.5 miles away from it still.  Debra was at the bridge and was feeling the hurt.  I texted her "You got this Debra" and tried to encourage her to move forward with walk/run intervals.  I didn't hear back from her for a couple miles, so I called her when we got to the bridge to check in.  She said she is pushing through!

For myself, right around mile 18 I started to feel some pain in my knee.  It wasn't my IT Band.  I knew it was my biceps femoris and possibly my popliteus.  This bothered me because the word "popliteus" was a word I used to like to joke about.  Now it just hurt.  I also have been trying with great effort to rehab my own injuries, but I am not a doctor and I only can do so much.  I Rock Taped my hamstrings and groin for this race and something told me that I may have screwed the tape job up :(  It is what it is.  I suffered through to mile 23 and then I got to the point of wondering if I would have to walk it in and let Sonya go on her own.  It hurt to come out of the walk intervals.  Sonya made the comment "I don't know if it hurts more to walk or to run!" and I couldn't have agreed more!

We made our way across the bridge to the ALARC "Wall", which is the start of the gradual incline up to Summit Avenue.  This was still a very boring and unpopulated part of the race and still the "guts".  We switched to a 6 minute run and 2 minute walk interval plan at mile 20.  It was helpful to our situation!

The "Wall"

After passing through the wall, we slowly inclined up to Summit, again one mile at a time.  Once we got up to Summit Ave. I think we both let out a huge sigh of relief.  Summit Ave. is like a whole different race all together.  You feel like you can do it at this point.  You are almost there!  Sonya and I just let out a release and I think we both teared up a bit :)  Man, we had worked hard to get there and the crowds were huge again and exciting.  There were bands again and fresh people cheering at the aid stations!  It was fun to be there!  Even though we were both in pain, we were very happy to have survived the "guts" and could now enjoy the final miles!

Summit Avenue

We took on Summit Ave. slowly, but consistently.  I ran with a pretty big smile on my face knowing that the end was near!  We switched to 4 minute run and 2 minute walk intervals by mile 23.  I was having trouble doing math and had asked Sonya to help me remember the number that we start running on.  By mile 23, she wasn't remembering any better than I was!

As we ran through the intersection of Summit and the hill that goes down towards 7th St., I knew we were very close, but I didn't say anything.  I could see the Cathedral ahead and when we got right up to it, I said to Sonya "see that flag?"  She said "yes".  I said "That's the finish.  Should we run this in?"  So, we did.  We pick up our pace and ran to the finish line.  It was one of the most awesome marathon finishes I've ever had.  I personally got to watch one of my very hard working clients realize her dream.  I had the front row seat and I couldn't have been more proud of her!  I started to choke up.  We just kept silent and soaked it in!

We crossed the finish line at 5:44:14.  It was almost 2pm in the afternoon.  We had been on our feet since we were dropped off at the MS office at 6:40am that day.  We were tired, exhausted, and extremely happy.  Immediately after crossing the finish line, we grabbed each other for a hug!  Best race ever!!!  I had one of those moments that coaches only dream of :)  I will forever be thankful to Sonya for including me in on her journey :)

We did it!
Marathon #9 in the books!
In our finisher shirts!!!

After the race, and the luke warm chicken soup at the finish...I headed home and threw myself in the hot tub.  I ended up limping the rest of the night as I entertained my clients at my house for a post-race party!  I was very happy about the day, but a little sad too.  The big day that we worked for and talked about for well over a year had finally come and gone.  I received a text from Sonya later on.  It was a picture of her 26.2 magnet on her car.  Very cool!

On to my next adventure...Des Moines.  I decided that I can no longer run with people in a marathon!  I change my gait too much and actually injure myself when it is not my pace.  I don't know what I will do at Des Moines.  Maybe I will run with Eric, maybe I will run as fast as I can...I have no idea.  Part of me wants a race just for me again.  It's been a long year of "other people's" races.  My therapist tells me to find and do something for myself now.  Running used to be for me, but now it is my job and it is for others.  I went out and bought a beautiful guitar the day before this race.  I am excited to get back to learning and playing it.  I secretly dream of playing and singing at a coffee shop one day :)  Until then, I still want my BQ and the competitive athlete in me wants it now.  I think I might be headed to Vegas in 6 weeks to run as fast as I can ;)

Event: Twin Cities Marathon
Place:  Minneapolis, MN
Theme Song:  N/A
Date: Sunday, October 6th, 2013
Time:  8:00am
Overall Place: 
Gender Place:
F30-39 Place: 
Final Time:  5:44:14

Friday, September 20, 2013

Marathon #8: "Year of the Turtle"

Friday, September 13, 2013 Pre-race Thoughts
We headed out for Wakefield, Michigan on Friday afternoon.  I had an appointment with my life coach/therapist while Eric was picking the boys up from school.  My appointment was eye opening for me.  It gave me wonderful perspective on my life and it also gave me some good thoughts to contemplate while I was on my marathon run the next day.  I tend to think A LOT when I run.  If I ditch the tunes, then I am able to actually sort through and process my thoughts.  I've adopted it as a means of self-therapy.  It's also called natural EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  It took me awhile to get it, but now I do and feel the benefits of it in it's natural form on my runs :)

I met up with Eric and the boys at home to do the final packing and loading!  We hit the road finally at 4:30pm - just in time for rush hour!  I slept through the rush hour portion of the drive and woke up around 6pm, just in time to start looking for a place to eat.  Duluth was too far away and I failed at googling for an Italian restaurant anywhere off of 35.  Finally, we exited at Pine City and just drove until we found something with pasta!  We ended up at the Pizza Pub off the main street.  Unfortunately, the service was very slow and the food was not that great.  BUT, it was food and we did get to have a little fun with the boys playing in game area.  I played a game of pool with Ethan.  Poor Ryan had trouble waking up from the car ride!

Ry Ry and Mom
Pizza Pub in Pine City

Eric and Ryan had a pizza, while Ethan ate his usual fries, and I ordered a salad, spaghetti, and bread sticks.  My meal was awful, but I do believe it served it's purpose for the intention of carbo-loading for my race!  We headed back out onto the road, with me as the driver, and headed up to Duluth!  Once in Duluth, I pulled into a gas station and Eric and I made the final switch for driving.  It was about 8:30pm and I needed to think about sleeping if I was planning to have any energy for the race in less than 12 hours!

Eric drove the long stretch east on Hwy 2 from Superior, WI all the way to Ironwood, MI.  We arrived at our hotel - the AmericInn around 10:30pm.  I am supremely notorious for picking crappy hotels with crappy service, so this was a pleasant treat.  The clerk was super sweet and our room was awesome and clean.  I got us an extended stay for cheap as well.  We unloaded the sleeping boys and our gear and passed out in bed around 11:15pm.  I don't remember anything until 6am the next morning.  Slept like a baby!

Saturday, September 14, 2013 Race Day
I was trying to remember how I ended up choosing this particular marathon, the "1st National Bank of Wakefield Marathon" in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I was originally registered for the Women Rock Marathon in St. Paul on August 31, but they canceled it.  I down shifted to the half and was marathon-less for the Fall.  I wanted an early one so that I could register for Boston this year - if I happened to qualify.  Except I hadn't trained at all for this race, but my fitness was good and I was strong!  The furthest I ran was the Women Rock Half Marathon two weeks earlier - 13.1 miles.  So...technically I could have pulled it off on natural talent - but I don't run on natural talent ;)  I run on a lot of hard work and consistent training! I wish I had natural talent.  It would make my life easier!  So, I knew deep down that this race was going to be a HUGE backside whooping!  However, I ALWAYS toe the line with a blank slate in my head and absolutely no idea how each race is going to turn out.  I love the fact that I never know what will happen during a race.  Anything could happen, it's all a mystery :)  I embrace the lack of control that I have for the next 4 hours and wait to see what gets handed to me!

The morning went relatively smoothly.  My family woke up, got dressed, and ate breakfast all in good timing!  I was eating at the continental breakfast looking around at everyone.  I was the only one at that hotel running this race.  This was weird.  I am so used to the breakfast being packed with runners that are all geared up, wearing their race bibs, and looking nervous!  After breakfast, we headed east 11 miles to Wakefield.  The weather was chilly, but perfect running weather.  The race was easy to find since it was on the northeast end of Sunday Lake at Eddy Park.  These were the only instructions I was given!  There was no expo or packet pickup!  And there was only one lake!  We just drove around it until we saw people!

I jumped out of the car and headed over to a picnic table in a shelter.  There was an elderly man there checking people in.  He was wearing a BAA (Boston Athletic Association) jacket.  I gave him the silent respect that he deserved for his qualification and participation at Boston.  Little did I know I would whoop his backside in about 30 minutes!  He put a check mark next to my hand written name and I noticed that there were columns on the sheet for the race admin to check runners off each time we circled the lake!  This marathon was 9.5 loops around Sunday Lake.  I wasn't sure how I'd feel about looping...

Dusk at Eddy Park with Sunday Lake in the background!

This race was free.  I gave a donation to the Wounded Warriors Fund in lieu of a race entry fee.  It was a certified course and a Boston qualifier.  No one would qualify today though!  It was not a goal of mine that morning, but I would go for it if the stars aligned!  My right hip, groin, and hamstrings were covered in Rock Tape to help with a situation that I triggered running the Ragnar Relay a month earlier :(

Toe-ing the line!

We parked the car on the grass in the park.  Everyone parked their vehicles and put out their gear and fuel on the hoods of their cars and in the pickup beds so that they could grab what they needed each time they ran by.  I had my very own water stop, complete with my gels, food, water, and Gatorade!  Eric and the boys made up some signs, but it was too cold for them to stand outside and hold them :)  One of the signs was interactive, where the runner would move along the sign as I progressed in the race.  The boys also got to play on the old school playground equipment in the park!  An old wooden merry-go-round, metal slide, teeter-totter, etc.  All the equipment that was at the park when I was a kid!  It was fun to see them on it!

Best pit stop ever!
Old wooden merry-go-round!

The race started at 8am.  It was very laid back.  The race director, Jim Engel, gave a short speech and basically said "Go"!  We all just started running slowly.  I stayed somewhere in the middle, hoping to have a good pace and not really worried about anyone else.  It was a small field of somewhere around 30 people.  I started out at my regular pace and was hoping to keep between 8:15 - 8:30/mile for most of the race.  I did slightly better for the first half of the race.

Waiting for the start!

The "field"!

And I'm off!

I decided earlier this year that this is the "Year of the Turtle" for me.  I have yet to PR in any race at any distance.  I feel like I am running in recovery mode at all times.  I don't have my former speed or energy.  I don't like to think that this has anything to do with aging.  I do admit that this entire year has been extremely difficult on me and I can only hope that I will resume my speed and energy levels when I am past all the crud.  So, next year will be "Year of the Cheetah", but for this year...I'm happy at my turtle speed.  This has a certain irony to it however, since the award at the end of this race was a rock painted turtle :)  Very different and very cool!

As I ran the initial out and back stretch, I found myself slowly creeping to the front of the pack.  I was a little shocked that the field was so slow.  I wasn't necessarily running fast, but I wasn't running slow either.  I was just running my usual race pace.  And for today, it was faster than everyone else!  I came back through the start area to begin the remaining 9 loops of the race and I was in first place!  I held the lead position for the next 3 hours!  It was very exciting and on a good day, I should have been able to win this baby.  But my injuries, from lack of training and not giving my body time and attention to heal, would catch up with me!

As I circled Sunday Lake for the first loop, I noticed several running quotes painted on the pavement.  They looked like they had been there for a few years.  They gave me something to read as I ran the same loop over and over again.  My favorite was:
"Mind is everything. Muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind."
- Paavo Nurmi

This was written in huge letters and the words that kept leaping out to me were "all that I am, I am".  Accept and be happy with who I am :)  I really appreciated these sayings until I finally got tired of seeing the same scenery over and over again!  I wanted to take a picture of one of these after the race, but I just wanted to leave when it was all done!

Sunday Lake - 2.75 miles around

I had to make 9.5 loops around the lake.  The first .5 was an out and back and then the looping began.  I got to see Eric and the boys every loop!  They would come up to me and ask me what I needed and then run and get it for me :)  Eric also tweeted my progress to my people!  It was chilly out for the spectators, but I was pretty warm in shorts and a short sleeve shirt!  It was exciting to be in the lead for so long!  The race director kept cheering and the other runners that I lapped would congratulate me!  I had my picture taken a couple of times!  It was a fun and exciting experience.  I started to fade exactly at mile 19.  My garmin beeped at the mile and my hip had begun throbbing.  I had a hamstring/groin strain, plus bursitis in my right hip.  All related of course :)  I just couldn't keep on top of the self-rehab with my busy schedule.  I'm finishing up my massage certification with 12 credits.  My business is booming and I'm trying to open a gym.  I'm still a stay-at-home mom and now a new step-grandma to little Erica.  It's been way too much, but only will last until the end of the year (when my classes are complete)!  I've made very little time for myself, my workouts, or fixing my injuries!  We also have new health insurance and I can't afford the deductible to pay for chiro or PT.  SO...I just had to push through!

First loop!
Receiving support from my crew!
Final loop - talking a much needed walking break!

I was on the other side of the lake at mile 19.  Shortly after my garmin beeped, I heard someone coming up from behind me.  The second place runner was female, which bummed me out a bit.  I would have rather seceded to a male.  She got up next to me and looked at me like she also felt like crap.  She said "this is as fast as I'm going."  I looked at her and said "I'm going to slow down."  That was all we said.  It was all the energy we had.  She had been on my tail for 3 hours.  She earned the race.  I couldn't hold on.  I could have pushed through the pain in my hip, but the worst part was the fatigue in my hip from having to work around the injury and not be able to strength train.  My legs were completely shot.  I still had over 7 miles to go.  I started the bargaining process :)  I wanted to quit pretty badly.  I was hitting the wall, but not because of lack of fueling - rather it was because of lack of strength training!  I admit that it was pretty tough to think about making it one more time around the lake!  I had been passed by two more people the 8th loop and my spirits were dwindling.

I picked up my feet and headed out one more time!  I told Eric that I'd meet him at the finish :)  I was in walk-run mode and just took it a little at a time.  I was passed by a fourth person on the other side of the lake.  Right before he passed me, I stopped on a part of the course that was rocky.  It was getting harder and harder to get my feet over the rocks each loop.  My minimalist shoes allowed me to feel all of the jagged edges.  I bent over to pick a rock up as my souvenir and almost got stuck!  My legs were fried and I barely was able to stand up again!  Two minutes later, he passed me.  He probably wondered what I was doing :)

I only had half of the lake to go to the finish!  I started walk-running again.  I didn't know it, but a woman was coming up behind me as I neared the final half mile.  She didn't have much in her either, but once I noticed her, I wasn't going to give up a place to her!  I thought to myself "If I'm not going to win this thing, at least I'm going to hold onto 5th place!"  I started to kick it in, half wondering if I'd fall on my face.  Granted, I was 23 minutes slower than my PR and completely spent, but we were still at a good pace!  My average pace the first half of the race was near 8:05 - 8:25 and who knows what it was in the end.  My overall average was close to a 9:27 pace.  As I rounded the final turn, I saw Ethan coming towards me with flowers!  Even though this lady was on my tail, I took a minute to go grab the flowers from his hands!  He hand picked them from the park for me :)  The boys were very proud of me and they always think I win every race!  My philosophy is that it is not about winning, rather it is about surviving!  And I survived yet another marathon!

The race director was a little bummed I didn't win the race.  He told me this on my 8th loop:
"Life goes fast.  The year goes fast.  But the final miles in a marathon go incredibly slow, so enjoy them!"  He had a good point.  It's too easy to sink in and feel like crap during the final 10K.  It is important to realize how cool it is that you are even there, at that moment, doing something that not many people strive to do.  It's not a moment to feel sorry for yourself, but a moment to feel proud.  So, give it what you got - even if you have to walk.  You earned it!

Since I had walked so much to the end, I didn't need much rest after the race.  Just a bench to sit on to recover from the pain in my hips!  Eric and the boys came up to me and gave me hugs!  The race director gave me my 3rd place trophy, a hand painted rock they called the "Lake Superior Turtle"!  I took 3rd place for women and 5th place overall!  I was still proud :)  And VERY happy it was over!  There is nothing like a marathon finish to make you feel like you conquered the world!  Everyone should have this feeling!

Ethan's hand picked flowers!
Coming in for the finish!
Hugs from the boys!

I was very happy to finish my 7th state and 8th overall marathon!  I was thrilled to have my family with me on this adventure!  My final time was not my best, but it isn't always about running fast and getting the BQ (I believe I've said that before!)  It's about doing something supremely awesome and showing people, and yourself, that you can do it!

My time for today!
My third place trophy! 

We headed back to our hotel about 15 minutes after my finish!  We grabbed some lunch, put on our suits, and went and sat in the hot tub for a half hour :)  Glorious!  Then we hit the road and headed out to Madeline Island for an afternoon of exploring!  I put on my compression socks for a few hours.  I could barely sit or walk!  It was uncomfortable, but worth it!  Here are a few photos from our adventure (I look so tired - haha!):

Ferry ride to Madeline Island!
Big Bay Lagoon
Walking the boardwalk
Thar she blows!

Event: 1st National Bank of Wakefield Marathon
Place:  Wakefield, MI
Theme Song:  "Roar" - Katy Perry
Date: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Time:  8:00am
Overall Place:  5 of 21
Gender Place: 3 of10
F30-39 Place:  N/A
Final Time:  4:08:01 (9:27/mile)